Find and use our data during your studies
The UK Data Service holds over 9,000 data collections, including both qualitative and quantitative data. Students can access most of this data. If you are a student at a UK institution of higher or further education, you can simply use your university or college login to register with the UK Data Service.
What data are available?
Our data collections include:
Data from social surveys
Our high-quality survey data covers topics from health and finance to employment and crime. These surveys use representative samples, and many are repeated regularly. Our survey data can be used to make estimates at a national level, identify trends and examine patterns within a population such as how people’s circumstances, attitudes and behaviours relate to age, gender, and social class.
Archived qualitative data comes in many forms including transcripts from interviews and focus groups, online sources, and images. It often gives you an in-depth description of people’s everyday lives, including their behaviour, beliefs, and emotions. This data can be coded, then analysed using techniques like thematic analysis or discourse analysis.
UK census data
The UK census is conducted every 10 years. It is a vital resource for social research, providing a snapshot of demographic and social life in the UK. Through the UK Data Service, you can access:
- census data for areas such as local authorities
- samples of individual records from the census
- data on flows between places because of migration or commuting.
International data series contain socio-economic time series data for countries or regions for a range of countries over time. They are updated regularly, giving up-to-date data for comparing countries and tracking change through time.
How to find and access data?
To find and access data, you can:
- Search the data catalogue using keywords and topics.
- Visit the find data section to explore data collections by data type or theme.
If you are looking for data for your project, visit our dissertation resources, which include information about finding and accessing data for your project from the UK Data Service.
Do I need to register?
You can search our data catalogue and download open data collections without needing to register. To access many data collections, you need to register before downloading the data. If you are a student or member of staff at a UK institution of higher or further education (UK HE/FE), you register using your institutional username and password.
If using data as part of a class, you may need to register with the UK Data Service before you can access the data. Alternatively, your lecturer or instructor may collate and pass on information about who has access to the data.
Once registered you can easily access our data collections (except the more highly sensitive and confidential data that only Approved Researchers can access through our SecureLab).
Doing a dissertation or project?
Doing a dissertation or independent project can be a challenging and rewarding experience. Finding, collecting, and analysing data can be crucial to a project’s success and we have a range of resources than can help.
Have you considered using some of the interesting and good quality datasets already available for you to use? Find out more about why you might use existing data sources in your research project in our video Secondary analysis What and why?
Dissertation case studies
Find inspiration for using data from the UK Data Service in our dissertation case studies:
Undergraduate students who use our data in a dissertation on a social science topic can enter the UK Data Service Dissertation Award.
Dissertations and their data
The Dissertations and their data: promoting research integrity in undergraduate projects (PDF) resource provides guidance about data management and research integrity in undergraduate dissertations. It includes:
- practical examples of good practice
- templates for consent, transcription, anonymisation and documentation.
Using survey data in a dissertation
Survey data can be a great option for a dissertation project. From the UK Data Service, you can access data from representative samples of the population on a wide range of topics.
Find out more about using survey data in a dissertation.
You can also see our quick start guides to top surveys for dissertation projects.
- Quick start guide: British Social Attitudes (BSA)
- Quick start guide: Health Survey for England (HSE)
- Quick start guide: Community Life Survey (CLS)
- Quick start guide: Understanding Society COVID-19 Teaching Dataset.
Finding the right data for your project
How do you find the right data for your project? Our resources on how to find data for your project cover ways to search and evaluate data as well as all you need to know about registration and access conditions.
Other useful resources
Recordings of webinars for dissertation students:
- Dissertation projects: Introduction to secondary analysis for qualitative and quantitative data
- Webinar: Data for dissertations.
Try our data skills modules to learn more about data and how it can be used. These online interactive resources are for users who want to get to grips with key aspects of survey, longitudinal and aggregate data.
Need help with software? We have guides to major software used to manage and analyse data on our software and tools section including introductory guides to SPSS, Stata and R.
Working with survey, census, qualitative or aggregate data? Explore our learning hub to find resources to help with each of these data types.